Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, the former Browns offensive coordinator, believes Ray Horton’s stint in Cleveland as defensive coordinator could be short.
Arians and Horton worked together for five seasons as assistants with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Arians as offensive coordinator, Horton coaching defensive backs.
“Ray’s a bright guy, got a great passion for the game, can relate to his players extremely well,” Arians said today at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He’s going to be a head coach soon.”
Arians later called Horton “a head coach in waiting.”
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert also had high praise for Horton, who spent 2004-10 in Pittsburgh and the past two seasons as the Cardinals' defensive coordinator.
“Ray Horton is a very intelligent, organized, demanding coach," Colbert said. "I know that the Browns will be prepared defensively very well, because Ray is extremely thorough. He’s respected because he played the game and has coached the game and been successful at both.”
Horton interviewed with the Cardinals before last month before they hired Arians.
“We had a long process where we opened up our search," Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said. "Ray was one of the guys we talked to for a head-coaching position, and that was really because of the fact that Ray did a phenomenal job. He’s a great person. He’s a great coach, and our defensive players really responded to his style. I think that once we determined that Bruce was our guy. I think that you give him an opportunity to build his staff the way he wants to build it, and he made the decision where he wanted to move in another direction and hire Todd Bowles, and he supported it.”
So what can the Browns expect from Horton as he spearheads the team's transition to his 3-4 multi-front scheme?
“Their defense is going to play fast," Keim said. "It’s going to be aggressive. He has a great scheme. I think he would be the first to tell you he learned a lot from [Steelers defensive coordinator] Dick LeBeau, but Ray’s ability to put players in position [is excellent]. I think a quality coach is able to cater to a player’s strengths, be able to hide some of their limitations but at the same time be able to get some success out of a guy where maybe some others threw him to the side, and Ray was able to do that with several of our players.”